Yemen officials say UAE barring ships with government cash

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The United Arab Emirates is barring ships carrying some 170 billion Yemeni rials ($680 million) from entering the southern port of Aden, Yemeni officials said Wednesday.

They told The Associated Press the money is meant for the salaries of government employees who haven’t been paid for over a year. The officials, including one from the Yemeni central bank, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with reporters.

There was no immediate comment from the UAE.

Like most other southern ports, Aden is under the control of the UAE, a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Shiite Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

The coalition is fighting on the side of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government, but the UAE has long been at odds with Hadi, with each side running its own armed groups in a power struggle across southern Yemen.

The officials said the UAE had in the past prevented aircraft carrying cash from landing at Aden’s airport.

The UAE ban came nearly a year after Hadi ordered the relocation of the Central Bank to Aden, the government’s temporary seat. Since then, his rivals have accused him of stashing cash in private banks and in the presidential palace, allegations denied by the government.

The unpaid salaries have crippled Yemen’s public sector amid three years of grinding war. Malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases have killed thousands of civilians, and millions have come to depend on humanitarian assistance for survival.